Tyshawn Taylor says there’s no way two of his best buddies — identical-looking twins Markieff and Marcus Morris — would trade places in something as important as an NBA playoff game.
“Not at these high stakes, the highest stakes in the world. For a class? Maybe. Right now, absolutely not,” said Taylor in a phone interview. Taylor was a teammate of the Morris twins at Kansas.
Taylor was responding to what’s been light-hearted speculation in some media outlets that Marcus Morris, a member of the Detroit Pistons, might have suited up for Washington Wizards forward Markieff Morris in Game 2 of the current second-round playoff series between the Wizards and Boston Celtics.
Markieff — who played just 11 minutes of Game 1 in the series on Sunday after suffering a nasty ankle sprain in the first half — looked completely healthy Tuesday in scoring 16 points with six rebounds and three assists while playing 26 minutes.
Markieff’s quick recovery from injury made some wonder: Was that Markieff or perhaps Marcus wearing that Wizards jersey?
“I read that talk on the internet. I was like, ‘Oh my gosh people are crazy,’’’ said Brady Morningstar, a teammate of the Morris twins at Kansas.
“One hundred percent no chance they’d do that,” Morningstar said.
Speculation — again, all on the comical side — was additionally fueled by the fact Marcus was not in the stands for Game 2. In addition … Markieff once admitted he switched jerseys with Marcus and entered an AAU game for his brother after Marcus had hurt his ankle and Markieff had fouled out.
“They couldn’t get away with it,” Taylor said with a laugh. “They look alike, but they don’t play the same way. I can tell them apart right away, not by the bodies, (but) by the way Marcus shoots, by the way they play, the way they warm up. They are different in their own ways.”
Morningstar agreed the twins, who played at Kansas from 2008-11, could never pull a switcheroo in an NBA game.
“It would never work,” Morningstar said. “I would exactly know who is who. People know exactly who they are when they are around them a lot. Markieff is obviously bigger and a little thicker.”
Markieff is 6 feet, 10 inches and 245 pounds. Marcus is listed at 6-9, 235.
“Their facial structures are a little bit different” Morningstar added. “Their beards are a little bit different.
“The crazy thing is all their tattoos are identical. They’ve got all the same tattoos. That could fool some people, the same tattoo writing, words, pictures. It could throw some people off. That’s how close they are. They decided to do everything the same.”
Morningstar did concede the fact that he has been unable to identify other sets of twins before — ones he doesn’t know nearly as well as the Morris brothers, who by the way are fraternal twins, not identical, according to past comments of their mom, Angel.
“The Harrison twins of Kentucky … I wouldn’t be able to tell them apart,” Morningstar said. “They look alike to me. They (Harrisons) could probably fool me.”
Taylor said, in the final analysis, there’d be no reason for Markieff to ask Marcus to play for him or Marcus to offer to step in — in Game 2.
“’Kieff is 100 percent fine right now. It looked terrible on TV,” Taylor said of the ankle sprain, “but if you play ball, you see those kind of sprains all the time. You wake up in the morning, it’s sore, but you bounce back.”
Markieff scored 10 points with five rebounds in 18 minutes in Game 3 on Thursday. The series continues Sunday with Boston leading 2 games to 1.
Taylor and Morningstar, by the way, said they never witnessed the twins switching identities at a KU practice.
“They couldn’t have fooled me,” said KU assistant coach Kurtis Townsend. “I’ve been around a lot of twins, like the Stewart twins (Rodrick, KU; Lodrick, USC). Once I got to know them (Morris twins) … they look different to me. One is a little bigger. One’s face is fuller,” Townsend added, in both instances referring to Markieff. “Markieff was always a little bigger. He weighs more. He’s taller. Other than that they are the exact same.”
Of the speculation about the twins in the playoffs, Townsend stated: “That’s just people talking. It’s just social media. They’d never do something like that.”
Marcus, for the record, addressed the situation on Twitter.
“I wouldn’t play for another team unless I’m on that team. ‘Smooth’ (Markieff’s nickname) playing on a sprained ankle. I didn’t expect anything less,” Marcus Morris wrote.
“The stories was funny though!!!” Marcus added in a separate Tweet.
Taylor wasn’t always fan of twins
Tyshawn Taylor — who played with the Morris twins for three seasons at KU — offered an interesting story about the Morris brothers.
“When Coach (Bill) Self was recruiting me (in same class as twins), I said, ‘Coach, I don’t know. I had a bad experience with these guys,’’’ Taylor said.
“We played the twins at a high school summer camp. We were blowing them out. Markieff threw a basketball at the face of one of my teammates. We were about to have a fight at summer camp. Coach Self was recruiting me, I said, ‘These guys are crazy, man. They want to fight all the time.’
“They ended up being two of the closest people to me at Kansas, great friends. You hate playing against them. There’s a weird vibe if you don’t know them.
“When you know them and are around them, there’s an energy that pulls people in. They are the most positive, hard-working people I’ve been around in my life. I’ve never seen basketball players work as hard as them. The summer between our sophomore and junior year in college … they were in the gym literally all the time. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Taylor said.
Game at Blue Valley Northwest on Saturday
KU senior basketball players Frank Mason, Landen Lucas and Tyler Self are slated to hold a “Barnstorming Tour” exhibition game at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at Blue Valley Northwest.. Autographs are set for 5:30 p.m., with the game to follow two hours later. The format will consist of the Jayhawk seniors and a couple of their friends playing a Harlem Globetrotter type exhibition against four seniors from Blue Valley Northwest’s state title team and other East Kansas League players.
Jackson not on list
The NBA on Friday announced the 67 players that will attend the NBA Draft Combine set for Tuesday through May 14 in Chicago. KU freshman Josh Jackson’s name was not on the list, meaning Jackson apparently has decided to skip all events, even team interviews and official measurements. According to SI.com, combine testing will be held Thursday and Friday. KU’s Frank Mason and Svi Mykhailiuk are on the list of players set to attend the combine.